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funny italian phrases

10 Funny Italian Phrases That Will Have You Laughing Out Loud

The Italian language has a very unique style and sound. And there’s no doubt that Italians have their own sense of humor. Just like in English, Italians have a number of expressions and idioms they use when speaking.

In addition to mastering essential vocabulary words, it’s important that you learn these commonly-used expressions. After all, you don’t want to misinterpret what someone is saying to you. Below are 10 funny Italian phrases that are truly unique to the Italian language and culture!

1. Hai voluto la bicicletta? E adesso pedala!

Translation: You wanted the bike? Now you’ve got to ride it!

This sarcastic Italian phrase is similar to the English expression “I told you so.” Use this phrase when your friend has a little too much vino and wakes up with a killer hangover.

2. Braccia rubate all’agricoltura

Translation: Arms stolen from agricultural work

This funny Italian phrase refers to someone who’s studying or doing some type of intellectual work, but doesn’t quite know what they’re doing. In other words, this person is better suited for farm work. Ouch!

3. Non avere peli sulla lingua

Translation: Without hair on his tongue

Do you want your friend’s honest opinion? Then ask him or her to say it “without hair on his tongue.” Just be ready for the brutally honest truth!

4. Saltare di palo in frasca

Translation: To jump from a post to a pile of branches

This strange-sounding Italian phrase is similar to the English expression “going on a tangent.” Use this phrase when your friend is rambling on and on about something totally unrelated, and you just want them to shut up!

5. Avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca

Translation: To have the wine cask full and the wife drunk

Similar to the English expression, “to have your cake and eat it to,” use this snarky remark when you want to give a friend a hard time!

6. Avere le braccine corte

Translation: To have short arms

Meaning to have short arms, this funny Italian phrase is used to describe someone as cheap. In other words, the person’s arms are too short to even reach for his or her wallet. This phrase comes in handy when your friend mysteriously “forgets” his or her wallet and leaves you to pick up the check.

7. In bocca al lupo

Translation: Into the wolf’s mouth

Another strange sounding phrase, this Italian expression means “good luck” or the English equivalent of “break a leg.”

8. Essere al verde

Translation: To be on the green

Are you broke as a joke? Use this useful Italian phrase when you have to reluctantly call mom or dad and ask for some money. At least they will be happy you’re learning Italian!

9. Fare le corna a qualcuno

Translation: To have the horns put on you

A popular saying in Italy, this expression means that your girlfriend is cheating on you. Sorry guys!

10. Tirare il pacco

Translation: To throw the package

The English equivalent of the expression ” to stand someone up,” this funny Italian phrase means that your friend or date never showed up to meet you.

If you want to sound like a native Italian, practice these common Italian expressions with your English-speaking friends. If nothing else, you’re sure to have a laugh!

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L’alfabeto Italiano: Pronunciation Chart & Games to Memorize the Italian Alpabet

Italian Alphabet & Pronunciation

Mastering the Italian alphabet is an important building block in your learning process.

Are you just starting Italian lessons? Learning Italian can seem difficult, but the alphabet is actually very easy to memorize.

This is because the Italian alphabet is very similar to the English alphabet, except for a few key differences. Most notably, the Italian alphabet doesn’t have the letters J, K, W, X or Y.

It’s important that you learn how to pronounce the letters of the Italian alphabet, as this will eventually help you form words and phrases. So let’s get started!

Reading the Italian Alphabet

Take a look at the chart below to see how each letter in the Italian alphabet is represented. Remember, there are only 21 letters in the standard Italian alphabet, as the letters J, K, W, X or Y aren’t represented.

Italian Alphabet and Pronunciation Chart

SEE ALSO: Interesting Facts About Italy

Pronouncing the Italian Alphabet

Now take a look at the video below to listen to how each of the letters in the Italian alphabet are pronounced. Practice the correct pronunciation along with the video.

Italian Alphabet Practice

To help you memorize the letters and pronunciations of the Italian alphabet, use the two practice exercises below.

Exercise 1: Matching Game

What you’ll need: flashcards and markers.

Gather a pile of flashcards. On one side of each flashcard, draw the picture of an object; for example, a dog, hat, chair, soccer ball, etc. Shuffle all of the cards together and lay them out on the table or floor facing up so you can see all of the objects clearly.

Next, quiz yourself by asking which objects start with a designated letter in the Italian alphabet. You could say, for example, “What object on the table starts with the letter acca?” Acca is Italian for the letter H, so you would then point to the card with a picture of a hat on it.

This is a fun exercise to do with friends!

Exercise 2: Eye Spy

What you’ll need: flashcards and markers.

First, gather a set of index cards. On one side of each card, write down a letter in the Italian alphabet. Next, choose a card from the pile at random.

After choosing a card with a letter on it, you will have to identify an object in the room that starts with that particular letter and form the sentence, “I spy a ______.” If you choose the letter P, for example, you can form the sentence, “Vedo una porta” (I see a door).

Once you have mastered the pronunciation of the Italian alphabet, you will be ready to move on to common Italian vocabulary words!

If you’re having difficultly mastering the alphabet, you may want to work with an experienced Italian tutor. A tutor can develop a learning curriculum for your particular learning style and goals.

Hope you have fun learning the Italian alphabet!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches music and Italian lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in vocal performance and has a graduate certificate in arts administration from New York University. Learn more about Liz here!

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4 Fun Italian Vocabulary Games for Kids

4 Fun Italian Vocabulary Games for Kids

4 Fun Italian Vocabulary Games for Kids

Is your child having trouble memorizing Italian vocabulary? Below, Italian tutor Nadia B. shares four fun games that will help your child learn vocabulary while still having fun…

One of the keys to helping children learn Italian–or any language for that matter–is to keep it fun and encourage use of the language. The following Italian vocabulary games accomplish both goals.

In between Italian lessons, play these fun games with your child. You never know, you might pick up a few Italian vocabulary words yourself!

1. Charades

Chances are you’re already familiar with the word guessing game, charades. Charades is a fun way to stimulate a child’s imagination, and the best part is you can customize the game for whatever your child needs to work on.

If he or she needs to work on memorizing verbs, for example, you can write different verbs–such as ridere (to laugh), scrivere (to write), pensare (to think)–on index cards, then ask your child to act out the verb.

You can make it as simple or as complex as you like. The only rule is that all discussions must be done in…yes, you guessed it, Italian!

2. Who Am I?

Write out a list of individuals on small strips of paper; for example, l’insegnante (teacher), la studentessa (student), il fratello (brother), l’avvocato ( lawyer), etc. If the child has a good understanding of Italian culture, you can try listing well-known Italian figures such as il Papa, Jovanotti, Dante, etc.

Next, choose a strip of paper and tape it to the child’s back so he or she can’t see it. Then, have the child take turns asking questions in Italian about who she or he is. You can give the child suggestions for questions to ask; for example, Sono maschio o femmina? (Are they male or female?), Quanti anni ho? (How old am I?), and Sono ancora vivo/a? ( Am I still alive?)

As the questions become more complex, the more the child will practice his or her Italian vocabulary. If the child doesn’t know a particular word, encourage him or her to look it up or simple ask how to say it. The game is concluded when the child has discovered his or her identity.

3.  I Spy

First, gather a set of index cards. On half the cards, create a mark with a colored marker or crayon. On the remaining cards, write out the name of an object in the room. Keep the two sets of cards separate.

Next, ask the child to choose a card from each pile. After choosing a colored card and object card, the child will have to identify the specific colored object in the room and form the sentence, “I spy a ______”. If the child chooses the object door and the color white, for example, he or she will form the sentence, Vedo una porta bianca. (I see a white door.)”

4. Like/Dislike

Gather a set of index cards and some dice. On half of the cards write the phrase, Mi piace/piacciono ___” (I like ___). On the other half, write the phrase, Non mi piace/piacciono ___ (I don’t like ____). Then, place all of the index cards in a bag.

Next, ask the child  to pick a card from the bag and roll the die. Whatever number he or she rolls is the number of items or actions he or she must list. For example, if the number three is rolled, the child must list three things he or she likes or dislikes depending on which card he or she picked.

Using these Italian vocabulary games will make practice fun and exciting! Encourage your child to come up with exciting alterations to the games, as there are many variations in how they can be played.

 

nadiaBNadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!

 

 

 

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Essential Italian Vocabulary Words for Beginners

Essential Italian Vocabulary Words for Beginners

Essential Italian Vocabulary Words for Beginners

Learning basic vocabulary words helps you build a solid language foundation. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. shares some of the most essential Italian vocabulary words to add to your study list…

Are you ready to start learning Italian? Before you dive into the more difficult lessons like grammar and writing, it’s best to start with a foundation of basic Italian vocabulary words. Learning these words will give you a running start, and enable you to communicate in a simple, yet clear way in Italian. Below is a list of basic Italian vocabulary words, split into five different categories.

Greetings

Greetings are perhaps the most useful vocabulary words of all, especially when you’re traveling. These simple words give you the ability to appropriately greet whomever you encounter or understand those who are greeting you.

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Essential verbs

In order to form complete sentences you must have an understanding of the essential verbs. Below are just a few of the most useful verbs to add to your language repertoire.

verbss

Numbers

To effectively communicate prices in shops, quantities of food, and other items, numbers are extremely useful to know. Below are the numbers one through ten as well as examples of how to use the numbers in sentences.

Introductions

Another basic element of vocabulary are words to introduce yourself. After all, it will be hard to meet a native speaker if you’re not sure of how to introduce yourself properly. Below are some vocabulary words for introductions.

 

Politeness

Lastly, there’s nothing more important in Italian culture than politeness. When speaking a new language, you can often end up saying things you don’t mean out of misunderstanding. The following words will help you fix any situation.

Politeness (1)

With these words, you’re well on your way to building a strong foundation of basic Italian vocabulary. To help you memorize these words, play some fun grammar games or practice speaking with your family or friends.

 

nadiaBNadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!

 

 

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10 Useful Italian Phrases You Won’t Find in a Travel Dictionary

useful italian phrases

Are you planning on taking a trip to Italy? A travel dictionary is a great resource to have on hand. However, it doesn’t always list common phrases and expressions used by native Italians. Below, Italian teacher Christopher S. shares 10 useful Italian phrases that you won’t find in a travel dictionary…

Italian is an extremely expressive language. Not only is it beautiful for the way it sounds and the theatrical hand gestures, it’s also beautiful because of its rich expressions. Like many cultures, Italians use a variety of proverbs and idioms to help express themselves.

When traveling abroad, it’s important to learn how to speak and understand these phrases, as it will help you carry on conversations with natives. Below are 10 useful Italian phrases and words you might want to consider learning before your trip.

Modo di dire (Idioms)

1. In bocca al Lupo (into the wolf’s mouth)

Literally meaning “into the wolf’s mouth,” this Italian phrase means “good luck.” The expression is the English equivalent of “break a leg,” comparing any challenging scenario to being caught between the hungry jaws of a wolf.

If you want to have good fortune, the proper response to this phrase is crepi meaning “may the wolf die.” If you want to tell someone “good luck” in Italian, you better use this phrase, because if you say the literal English translation buona fortuna, you’re not actually wishing good luck to someone at all.

2. Mangiare come un maiale (to eat like a pig)

If you plan on doing any eating in Italy (which I hope you planning on doing, because the food is delicious), this is a phrase you’ll want to know. In English, this phrase simply means “to eat like a pig.” Use this useful Italian phrase when you want to describe to your Italian friends how much food you and your friend ate at the restaurant you recently visited.

3. A tutta birra / A tutto gas / A tutto vapore (full speed)

Are you planning to go out on the town while in Italy? Meaning “full speed,” this is an appropriate phrase to use if you want to emphasize that you’re ready to party it up in Italy. Here’s an example of what you can say to a friend, “Andiamo di fretta. Forza, a tutto gas!” (We are in a hurry. Come on, full speed ahead!)

4. Rompere il ghiaccio (break the ice)

The phrase Rompere il ghiaccio has the exact same meaning as in English. In other words, it’s how you would “break the ice” in a conversation with someone you’ve just recently met. Here’s an example of how the phrase can be used in a sentence, “Volevo parlare con Eleonora e alla fine sono riuscito a rompere il ghiaccio.” ( I wanted to talk to Eleanor, and eventually I was able to break the ice.)

5. Spezzare una lancia a favorevole (to break a lance in favor of)

This is an old saying which most likely comes from the medieval times. Meaning to “break a lance in favor of,” this phrase is the equivalent of the English expression to “give someone a break.” If someone says something bad about a friend, you can respond with this phrase and really sound like a true local.

Here’s an example of how to use the phrase in a sentence, “E’ vero che Enrico si è comportato male, però spezziamo una lancia in suo favore: non conosceva tutti i fatti.” ( It’s true that Henry behaved badly, but break a lance in his favor, he did not know all the facts.)

6. Grana (grain)

This word has an interesting history in Italy, which most foreigners probably don’t know. The literal meaning of this word is “grain.” However by military bureaucratic jargon, the word passed through a phase of meaning a “designating nuisance” or “trouble.” It was also used as a form of referring to money in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

7. Essere al verde (to be on the green)

The English equivalent of the phrase “to be broke,” this expression is good to use if you’ve spent all your money, and you’re trying to get away from vendors. When Italian speakers hear this phrase, they will think you’re a true native and leave you alone.

Proverbi (Proverbs)

8. Morto un papa, se ne fa un altro (Once a pope is dead, there will be another one)

Even someone as important as the Pope has to be replaced. This proverb is used to stress the fact that life goes on no matter what happens, or, as they say in English, “the show must go on.” If you fall in love in Italy and get dumped, the phrase is also used to ironically encourage people who get dumped to move on. When used like this, the phrase is similar to the English expression, “There are plenty more fish in the sea.”

9. Chi nasce tondo non può morire quadrato (He who was born round, cannot die square)

This phrase essentially means that you cannot expect people to change radically. You will hear this phrase used commonly, especially in family situations. Therefore, it’s good to know if you need to make a point about a crazy uncle or aunt.

10. Meglio un morto in casa, che un pisano all’uscio (It is better to have someone dead in the house, than a soldier from Pisa at the door)

This is another phrase which most likely came from the medieval times. It is a war phrase that people from Lucca said when Pisa used to attack and loot their region. This is a good phrase to know if you’re in Tuscany and you want to give people a good laugh.

This is just a sample of the common phases used throughout Italy. While learning these useful Italian phrases is a good start, you might want to consider taking Italian lessons with an experienced teacher if you really want to sound like a true local.

Christopher S.Christopher S. teaches in-person Spanish, Italian, and guitar lessons in Randolph Center, VT. He lived abroad in Seville, Spain for two years where he studied classical and flamenco guitar and taught lessons to beginner students interested in classical guitar. He is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Guitar Performance, and has been teaching students since 2004. Learn more about Christopher here!

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Tips on How to Learn Italian Fast and Effectively

Tips on How to Learn Italian Fast and Effectively

Tips on How to Learn Italian Fast and Effectively

Do you want to learn Italian fast, yet effectively? In addition to taking Italian lessons with an experienced teacher, there are other ways to speed up the language learning process. All it takes is some creativity, dedication, and practice. Below are five fun tips and tricks on how to learn Italian fast.

Find our Borrowed Italian Words

Believe it or not, you already know quite a bit of Italian! There are the obvious words like pizza, paparazzi, and graffiti. But did you know about cello, cupola, and stanza? Just like a game of hide and seek, see if you can recognize and identify these words in everyday life! Once you start looking for them, you’ll be surprised by how much Italian you actually know.

Watch Italian Television and Movies

Another way to learn Italian is to watch Italian television and movies. The dialogue can happen very quickly and sometimes be difficult to follow, so it’s always a good idea to watch with English subtitles. When watching, be sure to pay attention to how the actors pronounce words and phrases, and follow along with the text. Also, repeating what you hear can help to improve your pronunciation!

Subscribe to Italian Blogs and Magazines

Find an Italian blog or magazine that highlights one of your favorite hobbies or interests. If you enjoy sports or travel, for example, find a magazine or blog that’s dedicated to that subject. Since you’re already familiar with the topic, you’ll be able to easily identify common words and phrases.

Becoming Italian Word by Word is a great place to start. They cover Italian vocabulary, current events, and history. We also recommend checking out Live Like an Italian, a blog devoted to “Italian lifestyle, culture, fashion, art, travel, and gastronomy.” There’s always something new to learn and a yummy recipe to try out! When you’re trying to figure out how to learn Italian fast, remember that reading in Italian will not only help you expand your vocabulary, but it will also help you perfect your grammar skills.

Write Your To-Do List in Italian

Want to practice your Italian writing skills? Just like when learning any new language, you must take gender, conjunctions, and accent marks into consideration when writing in Italian. An accent mark put in the wrong place can alter the entire meaning of a word or phrase! Try writing out your daily to-do or grocery list in Italian. This is a wonderful way to practice basic vocabulary and brush up on your writing and grammar skills.

Throw an Italian-themed Night

Who said that learning Italian can’t be fun? Bring your friends and family in on the fun by throwing an Italian-themed night! Cook an authentic Italian meal and watch an Italian film (remember the subtitles!). This is an excellent opportunity to practice your Italian vocabulary and pronunciation. Greet your guests with a friendly “Benvenuto al mio partito!” (Welcome to my party!), and encourage your friends and family to test out their own Italian speaking skills by labeling common household items and food in Italian.

Learning how to speak Italian doesn’t happen overnight. So watch movies, play with words, consider taking private lessons, and above all, have fun! These are just a few tips about how to learn Italian fast – do you have any tricks you’ve used to further your knowledge?

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Italian Pronunciation Tips on How to Almost Speak Like a Native

Italian Pronunciation: Tips on How to (Almost) Speak Like a Native

Italian Pronunciation Tips on How to Almost Speak Like a Native

Mastering Italian pronunciation is often the hardest thing about learning Italian. Don’t get discouraged if you’re having a hard time pronouncing words and phrases as it takes time and a lot of practice to get it right. Below, Italian teacher Delilah B. provides some tips on how to speak like a native Italian…

A lot of students ask me what is the best and easiest way to pronounce Italian words. While Italian pronunciation can be difficult for beginners, it’s actually quite easy to pick up once the rules are understood. All it takes is some practice and perseverance!

Italian is a phonetic language, which means it’s spoken the way it’s written. Luckily, Italian and English share the Latin alphabet; however, the sounds represented by the letters often differ.

To help you understand more, check out this video from Italian teacher Liz. T on the basic rules of Italian pronunciation. We’ll dive deeper into these rules below the video.

Consonants

In Italian, the consonants B, F, M, N, L, T, and V are pronounced the same as there are in English. The following consonants, however, are pronounced slightly different. Read the examples below and practice saying the consonants out loud, making sure to concentrate on the pronunciation of each letter.

  • C before a, o, u and consonants is pronounced like the k in “kite,” whereas c before e and i is pronounced like the ch in “chin.”
  • G before a, o, and u and consonants is pronounced like the g in “good,” whereas g before e and i is pronounced like the g in “generous.”
  • Gli is pronounced like the y in “yes,” and Gn is pronounced like the ny in word “canyon.”
  • H is silent.
  • P is pronounced almost the same as it is in English, but without the aspiration.
  • Qu is always pronounced like the qu in “question.”
  • R is pronounced with a roll of the tongue similar to Spanish.
  • Initial S before vowels and unvoiced consonants (c, f, p, q, s, t) is pronounced like the s in “sunburn.”
  • S between vowels is pronounced like the s in “rose.”
  • Z can be pronounced like the ds in “pads,” or like the ts in “bets.”

Vowels

Italian has seven vowel sounds (one each for a, i and u; two each for e and o). When two or more vowels occur in a row, they’re always pronounced separately. Also, vowels (a,e,i,o,u) always retain their value in diphthongs. Below is how you would pronounce the Italian vowels. Review the list and practice saying the vowels out loud, again making sure to concentrate on the pronunciation of each vowel.

  • U: sounds like the u in “rude” or the oo in “food.”
  • A: sounds like the long a in “father.”
  • I: sounds like the ee in “meet.”
  • E: has two sounds: e (open) sounds like the e in “set,” while e (closed) sounds like the a in “say.”
  • O: has two sounds: o (open) sounds like the o in “pot,” while the o (closed) sounds like the o in “post.”

Accents

Acute (á, é, í, ó, ú) and grave (à, è, ì, ò, ù) accents are used in Italian to indicate where the voice should stress when pronouncing a word. The grave accent mark is used to mark stress on open vowels, while the acute accent mark is used to stress on closed vowels. It’s important to note that there are many cases in which a grave accent is used on closed vowels. See examples below:

Grave accents:

  • città
  • morì
  • portò

Acute accents:

  • perché
  • poté
  • nonché

Grave accents on closed vowels:

  • diè
  • làncora

Hopefully, these tips will help you to better understand how to properly pronounce Italian words. In addition to taking Italian lessons, one of the best ways to learn Italian pronunciation is to have a conversation with a native speaker and listen to his or her pronunciation. Watching movies in Italian is also a great way to learn. You can find a large selection of great Italian movies with English subtitles on YouTube or you can ask your Italian teacher to provide you with some suggestions.

Delilah BDelilah B. graduated from the University Federico II Napoli with an associate degree in Italian Literature. She is an Italian and violin instructor living in Culver City, CA. Learn more about Delilah here!

 

 

 

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5 Quick and Easy Italian Grammar Exercises

4 Quick and Easy Italian Grammar Exercises

4 Quick and Easy Italian Grammar Exercises

One of the keys to learning Italian is practice. Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. provides some quick and easy Italian grammar exercises to help get you on the road to success…

Despite what you may think, mastering Italian grammar isn’t impossible. In fact, it’s as quick and easy as putting the rules you’ve learned into practice. The following four exercises will have you perfecting Italian grammar in no time! Remember, learning a new language takes time, so don’t get discouraged if you stumble along the way. It’s expected!

Exercise 1: Interrogative Words

In Italian, interrogative words–such as che (what), chi (who), quando (when), perché (why) and come (how)–are used to form a question. Practice using interrogatives by forming a question using each word above. Doing so will ensure that you can quickly produce the correct interrogative when needed to ask a question. See examples below:

  • Che vuoi fare oggi? (What do you want to do today?)
  • Chi era quell’uomo? (Who was that man?)
  • Quando arriva Giovanni? (When does Giovanni arrive?)

Exercise 2: Telling Time

Write down a series of times (for example, 2:24 p.m., 3:00 a.m., 8:00 p.m., and 9:45 a.m.) and then practice saying the times out loud, concentrating on your pronunciation. After you’ve mastered that, try working on your time expressions next. You can include di mattina (in the morning), del pomeriggio (in the afternoon), di sera (in the evening) and di notte (at night). See examples below:

  • Sono le nove e quattro di mattina. (It is 9:04 a.m. in the morning.)
  • Sono le sei e ventidue di sera. (It is 6:22 p.m. in the evening.)
  • Sono le undici e trentacinque di notte. (It is 11:35 p.m. at night.)
  • Sono le undici di mattina. (It is 11:00 a.m. in the afternoon.)

Don’t forget that you also have the option of using the following phrases as well: a quarter before (meno un quarto), a quarter past (un quarto), half past (mezzo/a), noon (mezzogiorno), and midnight (mezzanotte). See examples below:

  • Sono le sette meno un quarto di mattina. (A quarter before seven in the morning)
  • Sono le otto e un quarto di mattina. (A quarter past eight in the morning)
  • Sono le otto e mezzo di mattina. (A half past eight in the morning)

Exercise 3: ‘There is’ vs ‘There are’

‘There is’ and ‘there are’ are indispensable in Italian, and it’s easy to practice using them correctly. Look around whatever room you are in, and use c’è  (there is) and ci sono (there are) to describe the objects you see.

For example, if you see a white chair in the room:

  • C’è una sedia bianca. (There is a white chair.)

You can even take it a step further and describe the quantity of each item to practice the numbers in Italian.

  • Ci sono dieci libri e tre cuaderni. (There are 10 books and three notebooks.)

Exercise 4: The Definite Article

There are two main forms of the definite article in the singular, il (masculine) and la (feminine) and two alternate forms, l’, for any noun starting with a vowel, and lo, for any masculine noun starting with s- plus a consonant, ps-, or z-.

  • Singular masculine noun: il
  • Singular feminine noun: la
  • Noun starting with a vowel: l’
  • Masculine noun starting with s- plus a consonant, ps-, or z- : lo

Remember, i for plural masculine, le for plural feminine, gli for plural masculine beginning with a vowel, s- plus a consonant, ps-, or z-.

  • Plural masculine noun: i
  • Plural feminine noun: le
  • Plural masculine noun beginning with a vowels- plus a consonant, ps-, or z- gli

To practice using definite articles, write out a list of singular nouns and then assign each one the appropriate definite article. Then, do the same for plural nouns by writing out a list of plural nouns and assigning each the correct definite article. See examples below:

Singular

  • mattita –> la matita (the pencil)
  • zaino –> lo zaino (the backpack)
  • uomo –> l’uomo (the man)

Plural

  • mele –> le mele (the apples)
  • uomini –> gli uomini (the men)
  • bicchieri –> i bicchieri (the glasses)

With these Italian grammar exercises, you should be well on your way to a thorough and accurate understanding of basic Italian grammar. If you practice these quick and easy Italian grammar exercises regularly, you’ll start to notice that you’re making use of these grammar concepts in an easier, more rapid, and accurate way than ever before in conversation and in writing.

 

nadiaBNadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!

 

 

 

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10 Common Italian Grammar Mistakes

10 Most Common Italian Grammar Mistakes

10 Common Italian Grammar Mistakes

Are you struggling to perfect your Italian grammar skills? Below, Italian teacher Nadia B. highlights the 10 most common grammar mistakes to help you get on the path to success…

When you’re first learning Italian, it can be hard to keep track of all the complex grammar rules. Understanding all of the differences in how ideas are expressed in Italian versus in English, for example, can be hard to remember. Nonetheless, it’s important that you master your Italian grammar skills if you wish to be successful.

Below are the 10 most common Italian grammar mistakes. By reading this, you’ll learn how to avoid making these common errors!

1. Noun/adjective agreement

One of the most difficult things for English speakers to remember is to make the noun and the adjective agree in Italian. Just remember, no matter what the noun or the adjective is, you should always check to make sure the agreement between them makes sense. Always take into account number and gender. See examples below:

  • Singularun ragazzo amabile (a friendly boy)
  • Pluraldue ragazzi amabili (two friendly boys)
  • Genderuna lezione lunga (a long lecture)

Note: feminine nouns have the adjective ending in –a, while masculine nouns have the adjective ending in –o.

2. Correct verb conjugation

Oftentimes, verb conjugations can seem complex. Making sure the verb conjugation always reflects the subject–even when the subject isn’t explicitly stated–is important. For example, in the sentence, “Lucia ed io andiamo a scuola,” (Lucia and I go to school) the verb conjugation is in the we form (noi) because it’s referring to Lucia and I.

Another common mis-conjugation is in the use of the voi form (you all). In this case, you’ll be directly addressing a group of two or more people; for example, “Ragazzi, siete bravissimi” (“Guys, you are very good”). Often, Italian language learners mistakenly use the loro (they) form when they’re directly addressing a group.

3. Collective nouns viewed as singular

Some nouns in Italian appear plural because they are a unit of several, but they act as singular nouns with regard to the verb conjugation. Two examples of this are la famiglia (the family) and la gente (the people). Even though they are referring to multiple people, they are treated as singular nouns. See examples below:

  • La famiglia è andata alla chiesa (The family went to the church)
  • La gente dice che… (People say that…)

4. Conditions of being

When we explain how we’re feeling in Italian, some of the ways we express this vary from English. For example, many conditions (such as being cold, fearful, etc.) use the verb avere (to have) instead of essere (to be). So, when you want to say you’re feeling cold in Italian, you would say “Ho freddo” not, “Sono freddo.” Similarly, when you’re talking about age, you would say “Ho 24 anni” (I am 24 years old) instead of “Sono 24 anni.

5. Mi piace vs. mi piacciono

Expressing what you like and dislike can often get you into trouble in Italian. The verb piace (to please) is used in a phrase to refer to an item you like. The first common error students make is to conjugate the verb based on the person who likes it. In other words, “Mi piaccio” or “I like myself” which is not what you’re generally trying to convey.

The second mistake that can occur is to forget to make the verb agree with the subject in number. If what you like is plural ( i.e. the books, the topics, the shirts) then you would say “Mi piacciono…” If what you like is singular, then you should say “Mi piace…” See example below:

  • PluralMi piacciono i libri (I like the books)
  • SingularMi piace il libro (I like the book)

6. Shortened nouns

Some words in Italian are very long. Because of this many words are shortened. For example, la bicicletta (the bicycle) can be shortened to la bici, and la fotografia (the photograph) can be shortened to la foto. In these cases, the noun is still feminine in the shortened version, even though the word ends in -i or -o. When using these shortened nouns, remember to make the noun agree with the adjective. For example, La bici è rossa (The bicycle is red).

7. Irregular past participles

Once you learn how to form the past participle, don’t forget that irregular past participles exist! Some of the commonly misused verbs include: aprire (aperto), bere (bevuto), chiedere (chiesto), correre (corso), dire (detto), essere (stato), fare (fatto), leggere (letto), mettere (messo), perdere (perso), scrivere (scritto), vedere (visto) and venire (venuto).

8. Essere vs. avere with the past participle

Another common grammar mistake is using the wrong verb before the participle. While there are only two choices ( i.e. essere and avere), it’s easy to get confused about which one to use. The basic rule is that most transitive verbs are conjugated with avere, while intransitive verbs are conjugated with essere.

In some cases, both avere and essere can be used. However, be careful because the meaning can be very different depending on which you use. With the verb finire, for example, “ho finito” means “I finished,” while “sono finito” means “I’m dead”!

9. Making the direct object preceding the past participle agree when using avere

When you have a past participle with avere, you most likely have a direct object following it. For example, Ho scritto le lettere (I wrote the letters). If you wish to use a direct object pronoun, you would put it before the past participle and avere. If you do this, however, you must make the past participle agree with the direct object pronoun that precedes it. For example, Le ho scritte (I wrote them). This is a very common mistake as it is a fine point of Italian grammar. If you use this correctly, you will impress whomever you’re speaking with!

10. Commands

Commands are not very complicated in Italian; however, there is an exception that is often forgotten. While the tu form is expressed in the affirmative by dropping the –re of the infinitive, the tu form is expressed in the negative by using non plus the infinitive. Oftentimes, students use the same tu form for both affirmative and negative commands, which is incorrect. See example below:

  • Affirmative: “Ascoltami!” (“Listen to me!”)
  • Negative: “Non mi ascoltare!” (“Don’t listen to me!”)

Practicing using these grammar concepts in conversation is a good way to check if you’re able to use them correctly. Knowing the most common Italian grammar mistakes should help you notice when you make an error and help you to correct it yourself, or with the help of your Italian teacher.

 

nadiaBNadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!

 

 

 

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